Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Update

Organizers behind the Ethiopic Studies Endowment announced that they have raised $440,000 and are within reach of a milestone achievement by the Ethiopian Diaspora community. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: June 10th, 2020

Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Nears Goal of Raising $500k

New York (TADIAS) – They needed to raise $500,000 in order to make the Ge’ez course at the University of Toronto permanent. This month organizers behind the Ethiopic Studies Endowment announced that they have raised $440,000 and are within reach of a milestone achievement by the Ethiopian Diaspora community.

The Board of Directors of Bikila Award — the organization which has been spearheading the fundraising campaign since 2015 — released a report detailing its efforts.

“In 2019 a new fundraising drive was initiated to reach the required endowment fund of $500,000 to make the Ge’ez course permanent, followed by the U of T’s renewed generous matching fund of $75,000,” noted the Bikila Award organization in its report titled ‘Ethiopic Studies & Culture at the University of Toronto.’

Below is the full report courtesy of the non-profit organization Bikila Award:

GE’EZ – An iconic ancient Ethiopian language for humanity

Toronto, Canada

Dear Community Members and Supporters:

First of all, our well wishes to you and family members in these uncertain global times caused by Covid-19 which has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives as well as immense economic ramifications. In history there had been dark days; wars and pandemics, yet the human spirit has always prevailed. By the Grace of God we shall overcome this time as well! Let us all keep the faith and move forward together!


University of Toronto. (Courtesy photo)

In 2019 a new fundraising drive was initiated to reach the required endowment fund of $500,000 to make the Ge’ez course permanent, followed by the U of T’s renewed generous matching fund of $75,000. Members of our community and Society of Friends of Ethiopian Studies made urgently needed generous donations for which we are very grateful.


Professor Michael Gervers. (Courtesy photo)

We are particularly very grateful to Professor Michael Gervers and Dr. Fikre Germa who blessed us with a renewed donation of $45,000 and $10,000 respectively and for their unfailing support without which this good news as well as the certainty of the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at the U of T would not have been possible.

We are very pleased to report that Bikila Award also filled the remaining small gap to reach the required funding in matching the $75.000 goal. So far, we raised a total of $440,000+ to the Ethiopic Studies Endowment.

About Ethiopic Studies and Culture at U of T

The discovery of the earliest history of humanity through the remains of the 3 million-year-old Australopithecus Afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and known as Dinknesh (ድንቅነሽ) Lucy, show that the first human beings emerged in Africa. In the same vicinity, the invention of writing and the founding of great unified states 5,000 years ago mark the beginning of early civilizations of mankind.

With this and more historical background in mind, Ethiopic Studies initiative at the University of Toronto was undertaken with the objective of building bridges between humanity’s past, present and the future contributing to the increasingly interconnected world.

As we all know concrete step to establish Ethiopian Studies at the University of Toronto (U of T) was taken on the occasion of the annual Bikila Award Ceremony in 2015 during which Prof. Michael Gervers of the U of T challenged members of the Ethiopian community to match his own $50,000 donation towards the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at the U of T. Watch the video.


Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd). Courtesy photo.

This unforgettable initiative and generosity led to a matching of $50,000 by internationally recognized artist Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd). Further generous support by the U of T and ongoing donations by members of the Ethiopian community has to date resulted in over $440,000 as endowment fund for the establishment of Ethiopian Studies. This initiative came to fruition when the ancient language of Geez course was given at the U of T beginning in 2017 as a working knowledge of Geez language is necessary without which ancient Ethiopian manuscripts could not be read and/or understood.

The Board of Directors of Bikila Award and members of the Ethiopian community in Canada express their gratitude and utmost appreciation to the University of Toronto Administration for their generosity, unfailing support and encouragement towards the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at this highly esteemed institution of learning.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support.

The Board of Directors, Bikila Award.

For more information please visit ​us at bikilaaward.org


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